Ancestor’s Anniversary – August 24, 2013 – Laura Belle (Wetzel) Klinger

Laura Belle Wetzel was born in Trevorton, Pa. on August 24, 1870, daughter of Henry and Catherine (Kissinger) Wetzel whose children were as follows: Nelson, Laura (married Landis Klinger), Harriet (married Charles Murray), Carrie, Howard, Weimer, Harry, Mildred (married Frank Evans followed by William Patterson) and Grant (died young).

 

Laura gave birth to her first child, Ada Mae, on November 19, 1891; this first child was born illegitimate and the father’s name kept a secret and remained unknown to the family until 2012 when baptism records were found showing the father to be a man named Richard Williams.

 

In 1900, Laura moved to Philadelphia and married Landis Klinger.  January 1, 1903 brought the birth and death of the couple’s first son, Russell.  In April of the following year, Laura gave birth to Landis and a year later to their son Ralph.

 

Laura (Wetzel) Klinger holding young Marlin Strausser (c.1909)

Laura (Wetzel) Klinger holding young Marlin Strausser (c.1909)

Upon moving to Philadelphia, Laura and Landis settled in the Strawberry Mansion section of the city and it is there that she lived in the same Gordon Street house for the next sixty-five years.

 

Laura was very close to her younger brother Howard so the siblings always made sure to get together to celebrate their birthdays, which were a day apart.  The pair continued to celebrate their birthdays together up to and including when Howard passed away during their annual birthday gathering in 1957.

 

Howard Wetzel and Laura (Wetzel) Klinger celebrating their birthdays together

Howard Wetzel and Laura (Wetzel) Klinger celebrating their birthdays together

Not only was Laura close with her brother Howard but also his youngest son Royal.  Royal grew up spending much time with his aunt, including spending summers with her and her family in Philadelphia.

 

Ralph Wetzel, Lillian (Murray) DeConcini, Elizabeth (Osman) Wetzel, Royal Wetzel, Laura (Wetzel) Klinger, Landis Klinger Sr, Howard Wetzel

Ralph Wetzel, Lillian (Murray) DeConcini, Elizabeth (Osman) Wetzel, Royal Wetzel, Laura (Wetzel) Klinger, Landis Klinger Sr, Howard Wetzel

On January 8, 1965 Laura died and was buried with her husband Landis and son Ralph at Whitemarsh Memorial Park.  Laura is now buried with her husband, three of her children, and two of her grandchildren; one day she will be joined by a great grandchild who was born a decade too late but loves her none the less.

August 9, 2013: Ancestor’s (100th) Anniversary – Thelma (Strausser) Rothman

Rothman(Strausser)Thelma

Thelma Strausser, the second of seven children born to George and Ada Mae (Wetzel) Strausser,  was born August 9, 1913 in Trevorton, PA.  Within  a few short years of her birth, her family moved to neighboring Coal Township.  Thelma’s father George was killed in a mining accident when Thelma was just 13 years of age.

 

Aside from the mines that took the life of the head of the family, there were few options for employment so the family decided to relocate to Philadelphia.  Not only did this move provide more opportunities, but it also moved them to the same neighborhood as Thelma’s grandmother Laura and her family.

 

Thelma married notorious police figure and numbers runner Max Rothman around 1933 and by 1934 they had their first son, Clair A. Rothman.  A year later came their second son George and in 1939 they gave birth to their daughter Maxine.

 

By 1940 the Rothman family was living in Upper Darby.  Tens years later they were living in Millbourne, which is a neighboring community of Upper Darby.  I have spoken to an elderly cousin who remembers Thelma and told me stories of taking trips in Thelma’s convertible down to the Rothman’s shore home at the Jersey shore.  From pictures I have seen and people I have talked with I, hear over and over again that Thelma was a physically stunning woman who women tried to emulate.

 

Thelma went missing in the early morning hour of April 11, 1951; her car was found later that same morning on the Strawberry Mansion Bridge.  The Philadelphia Police searched the area and Fairmount Park guards dragged the Schuylkill River without success.  On April 26, Thelma’s body was found floating in the Schuylkill River five miles from where her car was found.

 

Official date of death is April, 26, 1951; cause of death is drowning; age 37 years.

Sunday’s Obituary – Earl Elliot Strausser

 

Shamokin News Dispatch, April 16, 1964

Shamokin News Dispatch, April 16, 1964

 

Earl E. Strausser

Former Fire Chief In Township Dies

Earl E. Strausser, 73, of 839 West Lynn Street, a former Coal Township fire chief, died last night in Shamokin State General Hospital where he had been a patient since Monday.  Known familiarly to firemen as “Big Six,” Mr. Strausser had been hospitalized previously from January 26 to February 21.

 

Born in Locust Dale, June 15, 1890, Mr. Strausser was a son of the late George and Minnie (Derk) Strausser.  He attended school in Locust Dale and moved to Shamokin with his parents when he was a boy.  He worked as a miner at area collieries.

 

Mr. Strausser was married in Shamokin to the late Martha May Bradigan, who died August 29, 1960.  He served as Coal Township fire chief during the year 1950 and was a 40 – year member of Maine Fire Company.  He was a member of Poor Shot Hunting Camp, also.

 

Survivors include the following children: Miss Vivian Strausser, at home; Mrs. George (Peggy) Nahodil, Levittown; Earl (Sam) Strausser, Shamokin; four sisters, Mrs. Verna Brubaker, Trevorton; Mrs. Pearl DeClercq, Jacksonville, Fla.; Mrs. Miriam Kaseman and Miss Alma Strausser, Shamokin; two brothers, Elmer, Brighton, Mich., and Charles, Crosswell, Mich.; nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

 

Funeral arrangements are in charge of Lucas Funeral Directors.  Details appear on page two, column one.

 

 

 

Obituaries can be of great help, especially for finding the marriage name of a female that may have disappeared.  While obituaries can be a wonderful find for both family members and the family historian, the above obituary is a perfect example of why they cannot be considered absolute fact.  This obituary states that Peggy (Strausser) Nahodil is the daughter of Earl; the first problem with this is that Peggy is a nickname and the other issue is that she was not his biological daughter.  Earl’s brother had died many years prior and Earl and his wife took Peggy in and raised her as their own.  Without knowing this information, a family tree would end up all out of whack.  This is my go-to obituary to always remember that obits are helpful tools and not primary sources.

Wordless Wednesday: Earl Elliot Strausser

Earl Elliot Strausser relaxing on his Lynn Street porch.

Earl Elliot Strausser relaxing on his Lynn Street porch.

Tombstone Tuesday: Claimed by Influenza Epidemic

PA_Trevorton_GreenwodCemetery_StrausserWilbert_20120708_153228_resized

Wilbert L. Strausser was born on April 23, 1902 to George and Minnie (Derk) Strausser.  Almost nothing is known about Wilbert, including his place of birth which is likely Columbia or Northumberland County.  The facts that are known are that he and his family lived in Coal Township in 1910, he died from Influenza on 14 October 1918, and he was laid to rest in Trevorton’s Greenwood Cemetery on 16 October 1918.

 

Wilbert spent 10 days fighting this deadly virus that wreaked havoc on the area and would claim the lives of more than 600,000 of his fellow Americans during 1918-1919.

Sentimental Sunday: George H. Strausser

My great grandfather, George H. Strausser, passed away on this date eighty-six years ago at the age of thirty-eight.  Though he was able to witness the birth of his youngest child, my grandmother, he would not live to see her first birthday.  What happened after his death is another story, or few stories.  The only thing my grandmother knew about George was that he died in an unknown coal mine.  II asked about his death during my entire youth but the story never changed and no slips were made…so there went my theory of a deep dark scandalous story.

 

For many years the only evidence of his existence was the 1900, 1910 and 1920 US Federal Census.  The first breakthrough came a couple years ago with the discovery of the Coal Mining Accident Registers database made available by the Pennsylvania State Archives.  Page 29 told me what happened, where it happened, and that it was “unavoidable”.  Accident Cause or Remarks…”fall coal blocking timber gangway”.

 

2012 was the year of breakthroughs in my search for George.  Last February I made the trip to the PA State Archives in Harrisburg hoping to get a copy of George’s death certificate.  So now I knew that my great grandpa died from a fractured skull but more importantly the certificate told me where he was buried.

 

George H. Strausser22 Jan 1889 - 10 Feb 1927

George H. Strausser
22 Jan 1889 – 10 Feb 1927

Now you know this crazy obsessed genealogist wasn’t about to wait for warm spring weather to go track down his grave.  The next day I made the three hour trip to Odd Fellows Cemetery in Coal Township with no real plan but a willingness to search.  About an hour after arriving I was standing over his marker feeling like I had been there before.  Sure enough, I had found this grave back in 2007 amongst a large Strausser lot but wasn’t certain which of the half dozen or so George Straussers this was.

 

George H. Strausser (ca 1925)

George H. Strausser (ca 1925)

Among pictures that were passed on to me and some that were loaned to me for scanning were three pictures of George Strausser.

 

This year I met a cousin a few times removed (who is more than twice my age and was close to my great grandmother) that had been recording his family tree and stories about the people for many years and he just happened to have one story that involved George.  “George came home from work on a pay day.  Bid was supposed have taken his pay.  She wouldn’t give it to George.  George went to the outside toilet and Bid told him he must have lost his money in the toilet.  He got a flashlight and went looking for it in the toilet.  – By Royal”.  Bid was George’s wife Mae, whose real name was Ada Mae.  This is the only story I have about my great grandpop and I can’t help but find the irony and humor in that it involves another of my obsessions…outhouses.  I am hoping to share more about George in future posts.

Sunday’s Obituary: Minnie Etta (Derk) Strausser

Obituary of Minnie (Derk) Strausser

My 2nd great grandmother, Minnie Etta (Derk) Strausser, passed away from heart disease.  Though her obituary lists her eight surviving children, what it doesn’t mention is that she also had seven children preceded her in death, all at a fairly young age.  One of those seven children was my great grandfather George H Strausser who passed away just nine months after his father; both died in the same mine.

Minnie Etta (Derk) StrausserPA_CoalTownship_OddFellowsCemetery_Strausser(Derk)Minnie_20120513_170159_resized